Music for Exploring Connection

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Jul 19, 2022 / 0 comments

It is summer at this writing, a summer of shifts and change and uncertainties across the world. It is a time of division, of anger.

It is also a summer, though, of seeking ways forward, and a time of looking for joy, for hope, for trust.

Music is a part of thinking about all these shifts and changes, of finding hope, of seeking perspectives that lead to peace.

Here's music to explore:

Music for Exploring Connection

At a bluegrass festival in California when she was ten, Molly Tuttle sings,

Pitched our tent and walked around
My heart opened to the sound
I didn't know it then
But my life had turned a page

It was a change, one that led her to her life in music that has taken the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist to awards and acclaim in bluegrass and beyond. Molly wrote the song along with Mark Simos and plays it in this video with her dad, Jack Tuttle, who comes in for mention on the song, too. You will find it recorded on her album Crooked Tree.

Hannah Read and Michael Starkey met at a late night session in Edinburgh, in Scotland. That is where Michael lives; Hannah, who is also from Scotland, divides her time between Scotland and New York. The pair found that they shared a love for playing and composing old time style music, with their own Scottish flair. Their debut album as a duo is called Cross the Rolling Water.

It's an interestingly chosen collection, with good original tunes from both artists, as well as material learned from a range of sources. The duo's enjoyment of the music is well represented by producer Andy Bell -- you've met his work in this series before on songs from both of The Lost Words: Spell Songs albums.

On the old time tune Apple Blossom, you can hear Hannah and Michael's joy in playing...and that they are really listening to each other, too.

Sarah Markey is also from Scotland, based in Glasgow. Flute is her main instrument; she also plays the harp, and sings. All these things are present in her debut solo album Leaving Lurgangreen. She brings in music from Scotland, from her family's Irish heritage, and from time she has spent in Spain. This set is called The Chicken's Gone to Scotland, and it's not only the title that will give you a smile.

July 12 is the anniversary of a battle in 1690 in Ireland. It ensured that there would be a Protestant monarch ruling Britain. Political and community division across the island of Ireland come up especially at this time of year still today. That is what Sean Tyrrell had in mind in writing The 12th of July (Lament of the Children). Cathie Ryan sings this powerful and poetic song of hope for reconciliation here. She recorded on her self-titled debut album, Cathie Ryan. You may also like to see Ryan's recent album, Through Wind and Rain.

You never know where those words of hope or actions toward reconciliation may go. That is part of what Indiana-based artist Carrie Newcomer had in mind when she was writing Stones in the River. There are also powerful and poetic thoughts about courage, hope, and resilience in the song, which you will find recorded on Carrie's album Before and After. You may also like to know about Newcomer's recent book of poetry, Until Now.

The Isle of Man is an island in the middle of the Irish Sea. Almost equidistant from Scotland, England, and the island of Ireland, it has its own history, traditions, laws -- and language.

Manx is Gaelic language, true, related to but different from its Scottish Gaelic and Irish neighbors. Manx was once marked as an endangered language, but recent times have seen that changing, in part through the work of artists such as Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin.

Scottish harp player and composer Rachel Hair has also been drawn to the music of Man, and has often traveled there to perform and to teach.

"For years now I have been inspired by the culture on the Isle of Man, and its music, song, and language. I'm so grateful to those involved on the cultural scene on the island for welcoming me -- this acceptance has been a real inspiration," Rachel said.  

Ruth added, "I have long loved Rachel's music and the way she approaches playing Gaelic song and airs with such sensitivity. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to work together."

The result is their duo album Lossan. That is a Manx Gaelic word meaning shimmer, glimmer, or particles of light. "The word also has connections to the sea and sky," Ruth reflected, "and it's these things that connect us both and are so important to our homelands."

Lossan is a fine collection of traditional and contemporary tune and song arranged by the musicians. This song, Vudee Veg/Little Girl, was written by Manx composer Annie Kissack for her daughter when she was small, and includes images of night sky, clouds, and peace. You can find full translation of the lyrics at Ruth Keggin's website.

From a life-changing inspiration at a music festival to musical connections across time and place, from looking for common ground in the present to hope for the future, to words that remind of love, peace, and home, may the creativity and choices of these musicians be good companions to you in these shifting times.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.